Writing is an interesting creature… especially when we’re talking about writing within the entertainment domain. More specifically we’re talking about the domain of screenwriting and teleplays.
The other day, my SO and I were talking about TV writing and more specifically the new show, “the New Normal”. Now, I’ll admit, I’m not a huge fan of Glee. I don’t like musicals (never have). Glee is a musical as far as I’m concerned. I could also go on about how TV has a tendency to do flavor du jours where they run ideas into the ground, but I’ll leave that for another post.
Regardless, it brought up a point. As I was thinking about it, I took time to think about stereotyping in writing. More importantly, in the realm of sitcom.
It leads to an interesting thought, it seems like most popular sitcoms have some degree of stereotyping to them. Now, I don’t watch many sitcoms. There’s typically a specific formula to them. Some one does something stupid or there’s a misunderstanding of some sort and it spirals out of control to the point of ridiculousness. At which point, things are talked about and everything is OK. Wash, rinse, repeat. It’s so clear in so many forums that there was a panel at Comic Con done by Racebending about diversity in writing.
After having seen enough sitcoms in my time, it turns me off to the genre. There are few exceptions to the rule (Frasier and Community are a couple of examples).
And even within those exceptions, there’s still a certain degree of stereotyping. Even within Community where the characters have developed far beyond the initial stereotyping. This is most evident in Troy and Shirley.
African-American characters are usually pretty stereotyped. Neither Troy nor Shirley fall into that narrow role. That’s pretty amazing. It’s the first show where a generally stereotyped role isn’t. Actually, almost all the characters aren’t exactly stereotyped. Even Senor Chang isn’t the stereotypical Asian. He falls far outside of what would normally be his racial role.
The only character that is still horribly stereotyped is the one gay character, the Dean.
Gay characters have always been pretty stereotyped. Even a show that has a lead gay character, Will and Grace, Will is still somewhat stereotyped. He’s the fastidious and anal gay. He never really develops past that.
And this is where Glee and the New Normal come in. How stereotyped are these characters?
Now, it’s entirely likely that the gay and lesbian characters aren’t stereotyped at all. Maybe some point soon I will brave the sitcom realm so I can have an answer to my question. I do think that since both shows have LGBTQA writers they can do it with sensitivity. I also understand that networks are more concerned with the bottom line. I hope that the bottom line doesn’t make the show into stereotypical gay characters.